What I’m Reading This Winter


I keep checking in with myself. “Am I ok?” Then I pause and wait for some sign or feeling that I’m not ok and it hasn’t come.  This feeling of stability is wonderful, especially with the craziness that I’ve taken on.

In the last month I’ve tackled Thanksgiving, end-of-year preparations for our business, Christmas shopping, holiday parties, a tax audit, dentist/doctor appointments and oh, guess what? We’re putting our home of 19 years on the market January 1. Decluttering, painting, cleaning, obsessing and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s a lot but it’s something I’ve said YES to and that makes all the difference. I can start to feel resentful of all that is asked of me when I’m wishy-washy about saying YES. Burdens are born of maybe and if I have to and I guess so.

I’ve even made time to read some books! Here are some of the books (for grownups and kids) that have helped keep me centered, take care of myself and embrace this new adventure:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

“I believe that curiosity is the secret. Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Furthermore, curiosity is accessible to everyone. Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times – a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion. Passion makes you get divorced and sell all your possessions and shave your head and move to Nepal. Curiosity doesn’t ask nearly so much of you.”

Absolute Mayhem by Kelly Suellentrop 

“Absolute Mayhem means fun rules the day, the night is filled with magic and wonder. And things that are normal during the week turn to crazy creations of splendor.”

Rising Strong by Brenè Brown 

“Grief seems to create losses within us that reach beyond our awareness – we feel as if we’re missing something that was invisible and unknown to us while we had it, but is now painfully gone.”

Madame Eiffel, The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower by Alice Brière-Haquet and Csil 

“Eiffel waits a day, then two, but Cathy still feels blue. This is so unlike her! Could Cathy be ill? No time to waste, he calls the best doctors in haste…Raising their arms in despair, they agree there is nothing to be done…Just…perhaps…get some fresh air?”

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker 

“Just tell the truth because it sets us free. This first domino unleashes a chain reaction of liberation. If we tell truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire. This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving. In a world full of the fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish our starving hearts.”

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat 

“Just then, they both heard someone chopping. A woodsman? Red thought. But instead – it was Gran in her gi. She’d just come from tai chi. ‘Don’t you dare harm a hair on her head!’”

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed 

“Some facts of your childhood will remain immutable, but others won’t. You may never make sense of the bad things that happened to you, but with work and with mindfulness, with understanding and heart, you will make sense of yourself.”

Trigger Points Anthology: Abuse survivors experiences of parenting, editors Dawn Daum and Joyelle Brandt, from the essay by Jessica Malionek,

“The thing about Fear is this – he kept me from seeing my whole self. Fear robbed me of my power and silenced my voice. Accepting the rain storm and choosing to sit in it has enabled me to individuate from Fear. Not running from Fear. Not reaching for an umbrella. Not grabbing for a towel and finding it’s already drenched. No. I had to stop being afraid of fear.”

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey 

“I wonder if that’s what really happens when we meet Jesus. It’s not that we meet Him or that we believe in Him or that we “invite Him into our hearts” or that we mentally assent to some nonnegotiable truths that will govern our best life now.

No, I think it’s that we recognize Him.”

All my love to you during this holy season! I’ll be back next year. ❤

17 thoughts on “What I’m Reading This Winter

  1. I’ve been wanting to read the Gilbert and Brown books! But am trying to get through a couple for book club:). Good to know they’re worth the read–I’ll keep on my list. Kudos to you for keeping it sane during craziness. I am trying to do the same and have been amazed it’s all going ok right now. Must be something in the air:).


  2. Have a very Merry Christmas, Karen!

    Adding Strayed’s new book now…thank you so much. Can’t believe I missed that one, I love her. Did you read her “Dear Sugar” book?

    And Gilbert…I may try her. She’s tough for me b/c I tie “Eat, Pray, Love” to a rough time in my life before I decided to get sober.

    Lots of love ❤


  3. OMG..we are totally soul sisters! There is a draft post sitting on my dashboard titled, “Shiny Objects: Book Nerd Version” I want to do the same thing.
    Your list largely matches mine, but I have found several more I want to add to the list (NINJA RED RIDING HOOD!!!)
    Thank you so much for opening up your library for us to see…my list grows.
    As for all that you have going on, remember what we spoke about this morning
    Breathe, baby! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. love this…..
    and the quote on curiosity, which was my word of the year last year.
    sounds like you have a lot on your plate…
    have beautiful holidays and i can’t wait to red about new adventures in 2016 )moving house? that’s big!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m comforted reading your words and finding your post today, Karen. Like you’ve popped by for a visit and helped me declutter my kitchen. 😉 Phew! Thank you!

    I keep checking myself and asking, “Am I okay?” and I find that I keep leaning towards the other side. The not-okay-ness. My feelings seem overwhelmingly big and so my mind feels cluttered and I can’t quite tell how I am. What’s real and not real. The lens is murky and it’s hard to know. I’m holding on to the notion that because I can see this happening, I do have some control and it will actually shift. I’ll be able to see that I really am okay with my anxiety and overwhelmed-ness. I may feel like life is a lot but I’m doing okay with it being like this. I’m not falling apart I’m just afraid that I am. Do you know what I mean?

    When I’m vulnerable, I often dive into the old feelings of not feeling okay. Shame pops up too. Which, as I said to my friend this morning, is so silly because truthfully, I’m managing quite well. It’s just the stress right now that is leaving me triggered at every turn.

    So, I’m going to smile at my pile of books calling my name. Slow down and try to be brave and think of you living your life, saying YES! and feeling ok. I’m so excited for your adventure. I feel so happy for you and it’s lifting my spirits and reminding me to be open. I love moving. The world becomes open to anything. Good luck and Happy Christmas! And thank you! XO

    PS Thank you for the quote! I’m touched and honored for sure. I also love that our booklists are so similar!


    1. I have been where you are often and have been suspicious over not being there now (which is why I keep checking in with myself!). A couple of time in the last few weeks, I’ve started down the path of a shame spiral and amazingly, reminding myself that so many things are simply out of my hands has been enough to recenter myself. I’ve had to give myself permission to not fall apart because that’s what I’m so used to doing! It’s the funniest thing.

      I’ve had this song on repeat in my brain when things start to get tricky. Maybe you’ll like it too – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_-BmVjyMf4

      Much love to you Jessica and Merry Christmas!


  6. So glad to hear you’re hanging on strong with all that you have going on!! AND you are reading!!! There are two books on your list that I have been dying to get to…in time. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Karen.


    1. It’s so hard to find time to read this time of year! I decided a few weeks ago that I have to put blogging aside for a bit because reading other people’s words is calling me more than writing my own. I’m going to attempt to unplug for 5 days when we go on vacation, which I’m not even sure is possible. 😉 Happy holidays to you too Dawn!!!


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